Ongtupqa

Jacqueline Lea

Where your dusted tissue 

stretches over the ridges 

of your nose, elbows, knobby knees, 

the bones now poke through. 

Your skin is pulled so taut 

your bones chip away 

under the chiseling wind.  

What man tries 

to do—slice open your crusted  

drapery of dermis, shave away  

your needled follicles, and peek  

into your bowels— 

the elements have already begun. 

 

And yet your secrets  

are not so easily excised:  

you buttressed cliffs of chalky 

red crags and petrified  

coyotes to stand guard 

outside the crumbling crevices, 

ferocious with their twisting 

arms and razored spines.  

Every pebble is a gelded tear 

as you protect the threshold that is  

your body. 

Spring 2021